DEATH IN PARADISE: Tuesday 1st November, BBC1, 9pm
We were transported back to the tropical island of Sainte-Marie last night, but the idyllic scenery was once interrupted by a woman in a wedding dress falling from her hotel balcony, spear sticking out of her chest. Another mystery faces detective Poole and his band of Caribbean crime-fighters, but how does this one stack up to the series premiere?
This episode still relies heavily on the fish-out-of-water angle and for now it’s still entertaining and there are some charming scenes of revelation for Poole, who is gradually getting accustomed to his island surroundings. The traits that made him a bit difficult to sympathize with in the first episode, like his stick-in-the-mud attitude and general condescension towards the native islanders, are alleviated somewhat in the second installment and he is definitely becoming more endearing.
As for the supporting cast, it looks like they too are making strides. Something I really like about this show is the small island take on crime solving. Without the ability to run a DNA sample through a computer that miraculously contains information on every suspect, the police force must rely on their ingenuity and this allows the audience to work it out alongside them. That ingenuity is a focus in this episode and every member of the team shows a bit of it.
There were also heavy hints at the possibility of Poole and Camille getting together, but Poole still remains frustratingly opposed to fun. I get the feeling that the writers are going to wait until the very last episode to get the two together and continue to loudly hint at it until then. It’d be nice to see an alternative love interest thrown in for one of them to mix things up.
As for the writing, it continues to be strong but a definite step down from the impressive first episode. The second whodunit is limited to a small group of suspects and the twist comes from the killer’s motivation. This motivation comes completely out of left-field and the revelation is belittled somewhat because of it. In retrospect, the first episode was like this as well, though not as transparently and we can only hope the series won’t come to rely on this approach. Still, Poole’s method of discovery is clever and the end is satisfying overall.
Death in Paradise’s second episode has confirmed a few things. For one, it is clear that the characters are dynamic and although they may plod along slowly, as the series goes on we will see development from each one. It has also been established by this episode’s conclusion that this is not where you go to see realistic crime drama. Part of the appeal is the focus on twist and old-fashioned murder mystery, but CSI this is not. If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the smooth, light-hearted ride then this delivers once again.